Saturday, January 31, 2015

Beaver Stew Meat - Sous Vide

For quite awhile I've been eating different kinds of meats with the primary goal of seeing what they taste like. I've not wanted to put in too many ingredients in cooking them that would mask the real taste. Now that I've had a fairly extensive exposure to many types of game meat, and with Judy's Christmas gift to me of a sous vide cooker, I'm branching out and starting to focus more on cooking game meat in ways that will enhance the taste and eating experience. 
I recently got some beaver stew meat from Exotic Meat Market. I've now eaten beaver several times: grilled beaver leg, roasted beaver leg and beaver tail. I decided to liven this beaver meat up a bit. We were having the missionaries over for dinner and my friend, Jerry, who is always open to game meat, and Judy was planning on making a chocolate cherry bundt cake. It occurred to me that a rich cherry taste would go well with beaver.  I looked up cherry on-line to see what other ingredients pair well with cherry. Pistachios, thyme and goat cheese kind of stood out for me. 

On a recent trip to Texas we bought a bottle of cherry balsamic vinegar from Stockyards Oil Company. The stuff is divine and strong. What a great pairing with beaver which is a rich dark meat. With time in the sous vide it would really infuse the meat with that deep, rich, sweet taste. I decided to add Craisins which are dried cranberries, also quite strong, and figured those would also lend some sweetness. We had some roasted pistachios, so I un-shelled 20 of them and ground them with a rolling pin. Finally, we had some goat cheese. I envisioned heating up the goat cheese when the meat was cooked and mixing it together with the meat.
The flavored balsamic vinegars are fantastic.
Roasted pistachios
Crushed roasted pistachios
The beaver stew meat was fairly fatty. I coated it with canola oil on both sides using a brush and salted and peppered it liberally on both sides with Himalayan pink sea salt and ground pepper. Then I heated up a pan very hot, put in some canola oil and seared the meat for about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. The searing firmed up the fat and put a nice caramelized texture on the meat. 
Raw beaver stew meat - quite fatty
Seared in a frying pan has firmed it up.
After letting the meat cool down a bit, I added a nice drizzle of cherry balsamic vinegar, straight from the bottle, putting down several lines over the meat. Then I added a handful of Craisins and sprinkled the ground pistachios and some ground thyme over the meat. 
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar and crushed pistachios and Craisins.
Then I shoveled the meat and added ingredients into a sous vide vacuum sealed bag and put it into the cooker at 60 centigrade for 4 1/2 hours. 
In the sous vide bag after cooking.
When it came out of the bag I had a taste and it was marvelous. It was very rich with a subtle sweetness. The ground nuts added some nice texture. I decided not to go with the added goat cheese because the taste was already fantastic and I didn't want the goat meat to mask any of it. 
Out of the sous vide bag and onto a plate. Still nicely coated with pistachio.
I did heat up some goat cheese and tried it with a few bites, and it was good, but I liked it without it better. 

This was one of my favorite combinations. I think the different types of balsamic vinegars will be real allies in sous vide cooking of game meats. I'm starting to think of other vinegars and other kinds of meats that might pair well together. 
In a serving bowl.
On a plate with salad with mandarin orange balsamic vinegar, mandarin orange sections and avocado. Great flavor combinations. 


  1. What did the missionaries think?

    If your current career doesn't work out, I think you've found your next career.

  2. I do like the idea of pairing fruity vinegars with gamy meat. This was probably not MY favorite combination, but it did make the meat a lot more palatable and interesting. The texture was quite good as well.

  3. I had a beaver chuck roast on my mission. It was one of the worst meals I have ever done tasted. However, it was only to be outdone by the bacon wrapped raccoon thighs that I had the next weekend at the same persons house. The raccoon showed that the old adage "you are what you eat" is true.

    1. Romney, I've had decent beaver and raccoon, so it probably depends partly on the animal and on the cook and how open you are to trying them. I am impressed that you got them on your mission. Not what I would have guessed for the area you were in.